Ensuring marketers can holistically optimize their investments by overcoming the challenges of limited data sharing

By Robert Cardarelli, SVP at Ipsos MMA

Too often these days, whenever you hear about multi-touch attribution (MTA) there is a LOT of doubt in the marketer’s mind as to whether it will deliver on its promise. Themes like “black box”, missing data, a lack of validated, trusted results that make sense, and now “Walled Gardens” put traditional MTA offerings under more scrutiny than ever. The data required for a standalone MTA implementation can be difficult to obtain, validate and integrate due to global regulations and the strengthening of the “Walled Gardens”. No wonder a recent survey by the Mobile Marketing Association tallied an NPS score of -28. As a benchmark, Motel 6 has an NPS score of -15*.

The “Walled Gardens” continue to fortify their walls and data is becoming scarce – the traditional standalone independent MTA model is becoming exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to implement

By “walled gardens”, we are referring to publishers such as Google, Facebook and Amazon Ads, that limit marketers and their measurement partners access to their individual-level data. Without this data, granular cross channel, reach and frequency, and customer journey measurement is incomplete. Authenticated IDs from publishers enable them to collect and analyze data for their own touchpoints providing a silo-based view with limited third-party perspective.

A new generation of MTA is needed!

It is our view that there is tremendous value in MTA if done right. Multi-touch-attribution is a highly sophisticated approach that leverages massive amounts of data. No doubt it has advanced significantly in recent years. BUT as a measurement platform alone, in a silo, it has never been able to quantify the incrementality of digital touchpoints on sales and business KPIs. Keep in mind, that original capabilities were designed to place credit on a tactic to optimize the customer journey. Since then however, it has evolved to measure incrementality. But, as a standalone, siloed solution it is rarely an accurate measurement or planning platform.  Worse, using it to measure how ads within one “walled garden” drive sales in another garden is virtually impossible.

Brands are evolving their MTA capabilities to one of Unified Measurement and Optimization in the era of “Walled Gardens”

Looking to the future, an emerging strategy is one of collaborating with marketers and publishers to establish “clean rooms” to join data, perform attribution analytics, and extract insights needed to optimize plans. Many platforms offer their own form of attribution measurement – however, there is a lack of objectivity and cross-platform measurement is still missing. Nonetheless, building relationships will be an essential element to being successful!

Another critically important component is unified models. A unified model uses multiple types of data and advanced techniques to quantify media interactions to estimate incrementality. This approach combines highly granular marketing mix models with data acquired from first and third-party ad tracking technologies and “walled garden” integrations. Traditional MTA alone cannot measure incremental sales and marketing mix models have historically not been fast enough to make real-time decisions. This new era of advanced models leverages statistical and machine learning methods coupled with A/B tests to test results and ensure that they are valid and accurately able to measure true incrementality.

Uncharted waters will require new industry standards

The next few years will be exciting in terms of how data is shared and the granularity that is available for unified measurement. Some partnerships already are in place. Going forward, partnerships may become more universal, more selective in what data is shared, or the measurement industry may drive sharing principles and standards that publishers must adopt. While hybrid measurement approaches are a bit like the new kid on the block – they will evolve and require more transparency, more validation, driving a clear value exchange where privacy-safe data and marketing optimization outcomes benefit both the publisher’s data “garden” and the client marketing organization.

*Motel6 Net Promoter Score 2019 Benchmarks – CG Customer Guru. https://customer.guru/net-promoter-score/motel6